Controlling Very Long Rip Cuts

      A woodworker looks for a way to make long rips without the problem of managing large stock on a table saw. April 24, 2014

Question (WOODWEB Member) :
I'm expanding my operations hence this question. I use cellular PVC in my product. I can buy it in 4' widths and from 8' to 20' long because some of my custom parts are over 4' and some are over 8' long. It makes the most sense to use 20' panels (mostly ripped to 5" wide).

I'd like to avoid feeding this through a stationary arbor machine for several reasons (stock control and in and out length (40')). On the other hand a real Horz panel saw seems like overkill for this easy to cut 5/8" thick material that will always be cut to the same width.

I'm envisioning a 20' table, under which is a simple circular saw mounted on a carriage slightly longer than 20'. I can't quite get my head around how to design the runners. My Altendorf STS uses beveled bakelite runners on which wheels run. Alternatively, I've seen a lot of things that slide using drill rod for guides. In either case, I doubt that I'll find something that's perfectly straight for 20' and expect to have to set the guides loose onto a support and then straighten and fasten them as I go. Has anyone done anything like this? Any ideas or thoughts?

Forum Responses
(Solid Wood Machining Forum)
From Contributor S:
If you don't have to rip a billion of them, how about the Festool circular saw with their guide rail system? They connect securely end to end, and are available ready made in lengths up to 195". Two or three rails in appropriate lengths would easily take care of 20' lengths, they are very accurate, and you wouldn't have to build something from scratch to be able to get to work.

From the original questioner:
Not a bad thought. I was thinking manual circular saw. Why would I need their guide system when an outboard fence on a CS would do something similar? Do you question the accuracy of a CS with fence?

From Contributor S:
Having used both, I can say there is no comparison in cut quality. The Festool really gives me panel saw results. They also have accessories for the rails which allow for repeat rips at the same width, making it at least as quick as using a saw-mounted rip guide.

From Contributor H

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You could do this with ground linear guides and v-groove bearings for the "cars". A pair of cars on each of two parallel tracks and you would have something to mount a rolling saw support platform onto. However you could accomplish same thing with a 20' long straight edge saw support. This could be easily enough made from panel stock so that it is straight.

Your saw could ride along the top of this 20' ripping guide with the blade hanging over one edge. Since all strips would be cut the same width it would be easy enough to set a stop guide underneath this 20' ripping platform. The only real complex issue to solve here is support for the 20' long by approximately 6" to 8" wide platform. I'm thinking some brackets coming in from the side every 24" that go under the platform. You would just have to make sure they were high enough to allow the stock underneath.

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From the original questioner:
We are all thinking along the same lines. A simple track system of some sort setting on the stock. The only problem with the diagram you created is that I'd be reaching over 4' of stock for the first cut. I'm envisioning the track being on the outside (away from the wall) where I won't have to reach.

From Contributor H

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I was envisioning reaching across the fixture to make the cuts, not across the sheet. This would keep the saw blade away from the operator instead of having to reach across the blade. Make one cut, remove the strip, slide the sheet towards the operator, make the second cut, etc.

There are many ways to profile a curved muntin. Hard to say which would be best. It depends upon what you have for machines and the volume of cuts. Most of what we do is small volume so depending upon the profile we might do it on a router table, the shaper with backers and bearing guides or on the CNC. Sorry I can't be more specific. I've seen the Stegherr muntin machines at machinery shows but never used one. I did have a Stegherr BOF casing profile machine at one point but we never saw a need to hook it up so I eventually sold it.

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